On 14th December 2011, AIDS Law Project in collaboration with other civil society organizations marked the 10 year DOHA anniversary with a march. The CSO’s conducted peaceful march to deliver a memorandum to four key ministries including the Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Industrialization, Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Medical services. The key message was to urge the Government to utilize all the flexibilities available in the TRIPs agreement to enhance access to generic medicines.
The advent of the WTO imposed 20-year patent monopolies on medications in developing countries, decreasing access to life-saving treatment at the same time HIV was exploding across Africa. However, several safeguards were negotiated by developing countries to allow nations to break monopolies on medicines to meet pressing public health needs in the WTO’s TRIPS agreement.
November 2011 marked the 10th anniversary of the landmark “Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health”, where all WTO member countries agreed and committed that public health takes priority over pharmaceutical company profits and patent rights. The Doha Declaration protects the rights of low- and middle-income countries to provide medications to address public health needs such as HIV, TB and malaria.
AIDS Law Project in collaboration with other civil society organizations working on health and human made the following demands to government:
- THAT Kenya incorporates fully in its laws, polices and trade agreements all the flexibilities under the TRIPS Agreement as confirmed by the Doha Declaration.
- That Kenya review, and reform or repeal as needed all laws, policies or trade agreements that reverse or threaten the gains made under Doha Declaration.
- THAT Kenya utilizes its rights under the TRIPS agreement to rapidly increase access to affordable generic medicines so that all Kenyan’s have access to medicine.
- That Kenya supports other least developed countries in Africa, such as Uganda, to apply for an extension to Doha Declaration, allowing them to continue manufacturing generic medicine past 2016.
- Kenya should invest in medical research and development to make sure that people in Kenya have the best possible access to health and medicine in the future.
ALP and other CSO’s will be following up with the respective ministries to ensure that the demands are being acted upon.
AIDS Law Project (ALP) in conjunction with Open Society Foundation (OSF) Access to Essential Medicines Initiative (AEMI) is currently running a fellowship in access to medicines, intellectual property and human rights. The Fellow’s work include working closely with other stakeholders in Kenya to help develop legal advocacy and access to medicines expertise at key civil society organizations and to foster the development of a new generation of activists interested in working in the area of access to medicines, intellectual property and human rights.AIDS Law Project (ALP) in conjunction with Open Society Foundation (OSF) Access to Essential Medicines Initiative (AEMI) is currently running a fellowship in access to medicines, intellectual property and human rights. The Fellow’s work include working closely with other stakeholders in Kenya to help develop legal advocacy and access to medicines expertise at key civil society organizations and to foster the development of a new generation of activists interested in working in the area of access to medicines, intellectual property and human rights. Other responsibilities include:
a. Analysis of Anti-Counterfeit legislation and its impact on access to medicines
b. Engagement in on-going court proceedings including writing brief commentaries on the issues both on national newspapers and online
c. Preparation of messages directed to policy makers as well as members of the public
d. Analyse the national procurement and supply management (PSM) legislation
e. Preparation of shadow reports to human rights bodies on access to medicines
f. Collaboration with stakeholders
g. Capacity development of CSOs interested in working on access to medicines area.
The fellowship is running for a period of 12 (twelve) months from 1st March 2011 to 28th February, 2012. All stakeholders are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to engage the Fellow in their work on access to medicines.
Over the past couple of years there has been a tremendous improvement in the fight against HIV and aids of importance concern is the anti retro viral drugs that have helped prolong the lives and dramatically improve peoples health taking them from near death back to health, family and employment. Across the developing world more than five million people receive anti retro viral drugs which represent important progress. however a further nearly ten million people are in urgent need for treatment and will die within the next few years if such treatment is not availed to them it is therefore important on everyone especially the government and international community to ensure that such essential medication is made available to all who need it.
India has been the biggest producer of quality generic medicines to the developing world. Up to 80% of HIV medicines from donor money were purchased from India from 2003 to 2008 indeed India is commonly referred to as the pharmacy of the developing world. The critical role that India plays in the fight of HIV and AIDS in the developing world cannot be under stated.
This continued sourcing is however under threat as India became a key source of affordable medicines until 2005 the country did not grant patents on medicines. This meant that affordable generic versions could be produced freely by multiple producers bringing the prices for most commonly used AIDS treatment combination down by more than 99% since 2000. Since 2005 however the world trade organization trips has obligated India to begin patenting its medicines
The situation gets even worse now that The European Union is currently negotiating a free trade agreement with India that include harmful provisions that would seriously hamper the access to medicines in the developing world. Amongst the demands that the European union is making is one for data exclusivity which ideally would require generics producers to generate their own clinical trial data that would not only be expensive but also unethical as it would require repeating trials for drugs already proven effective , and withholding life-saving medicine from the control group. If adopted such a policy would be dangerous as it would increase monopolies meaning more expensive drugs and woo unto the developing world that cannot afford the said medicines.
The united sates on the other hand is also demanding that India adopts more restrictive intellectual property policies that would hinder generic production and restrict use of public and restrict use of public health safe guards.
The European Union and the United States are also pushing for policies that will undermine access to affordable generics through the Anti-counterfeiting trade agreement which essentially allows the customs official to detain and destroy medicines based on suspected trademark infringements. Big pharmaceutical companies will be able to use such an agreement to punish generic producers. The end result would be restriction son generic competition which will lead to higher drug prices and diminished access to medicines people need to stay alive.
Such restrictions on the India market will directly translate into decreased pipeline of affordable versions of important HIV medicines for people in developing countries. The number of patients switching to second line medicines is increasing but unless attacks by the European commission and others on the future of generic production in India are stopped, costs to donors and national programmes will rise, anti retro viral access will be rationed and patients will die
As we commemorate the world aids day lets not relent in the fight against the virus